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Guardian geese ??

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by emjay, Sep 10, 2010.

  1. emjay

    emjay Songster

    Sep 6, 2009
    I've been reading alot of posts where people who have ducks have guardian geese. What breed of geese are these? they coexist peacefully with ducks ????
    and how are they to humans. Only geese on the farm I've ever met have either chased humans or taken down dogs (saw that with my own eyes)


  2. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Songster

    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    I have a guardian goose (two geese, but only one that protects the flock). Mine is a Toulouse, but the breed doesn't matter much. What's critical is that they must be raised with the ducks. That is why I have two geese and only one guardian--one grew up with some of the ducks he protects, and the other did not. She has no interest in protecting the flock. He is an amazing companion, guardian, and herder.

    HOWEVER, the guardian goose cannot be expected to protect a flock to the same degree that a good guardian dog would. It is not large enough to truly defend itself or the flock against large predators. A flock protected by a goose must also have fencing and a secure nighttime pen.

    But they do still offer several layers of protection. They are smarter than the ducks, so they use better judgment in where to go and when. They also keep watch while all the other ducks are foraging and doing ducky things, so they see danger earlier and can warn the flock. They will scare off smaller predators such as some raccoons and possums, and certainly rats and weasels. Because they are so smart, they will often know what to do when there's an emergency. And they will sacrifice themselves for the flock if necessary.

    I raised two geese with my ducks but only have one of the originals because of this latter event. A neighbor's pit bulls (grrrr) got loose one day while I was gone and the birds were foraging in the back yard. It had happened once before a couple years prior, and I lost several ducks to them that time, all them evidently lost to "playing"--no blood or open wounds, just exhaustion and probably internal injuries. This time, I lost a goose--he had a large chunk taken out of his chest, which indicates there was a pitched battle and not just "doggies at play." We believe he held the dogs off while the rest of the flock escaped to the lake, with the other goose leading. I was terribly, terribly sad about it and especially about the fact that my remaining goose was terribly sad about it. He stood over the location of the body (which I had already removed) and cried for half an hour. So sad. So that's another illustration of why you can't rely on them to work alone to defend the flock, but they can be useful in an emergency situation. I probably would have had a lot more losses if he hadn't stood his ground and driven the dogs back.

    Another example of how my geese have protected the flock was when one of my ducks got tangled in fishing line down at the community pond. The first I knew of it, Hercules (my guardian goose) came running up the path to our yard, herding Lily quickly in front of him. She would naturally have shied away from me (we don't directly handle them a lot), but he herded her over to me. As soon as I untangled her, he took her over to their pen and helped her get settled in. He then went back to the lake and brought the rest of the flock up.

    I wish I had two guardian geese, because I think they work together to be even more effective (such as one standing firm while the other leads the flock or, in this case, the second goose could have rounded up the rest of the flock and brought them up at their own pace while the one brought Lily up to me, instead of having to leave the main flock undefended while he cared for her). But just adding a goose to the flock doesn't necessarily mean she'll feel protective toward them.

    Just fyi, a goose raised with ducks will feel especially protective toward his own flock and those he was raised with, but that doesn't mean he won't protect other ducks too. I can add other ducks to Herc's flock and by the time the duck is considered part of the family, he is as protective of her as he is of the others. He's also *somewhat* protective of the other ducks in the yard (I have three distinct flocks--they roam together during the day but sleep separate, and they act like separate flocks), but not as strongly as his own.

    Oh, and you asked about aggression toward humans and yes, that can be a problem. My middle child was afraid of Herc when he (the child) was four and five, and Herc has in fact attacked my toddler when I left him on the other side of the yard (he didn't injure him, but the toddler now has a healthy caution around geese). I've trained my children how to be assertive with him, and I've trained him not to be too aggressive with people, and we've had relative peace. But a goose is not an animal I would leave alone with young children, or even with older children if they haven't been trained how to handle him.

    So the short answer is, it's all in how the animals are handled and raised. A goose is a naturally smarter, larger, stronger, and more aggressive animal than a duck. These aspects can be trained to your advantage, but they can also get out of hand or be inappropriate in certain circumstances. I have a friend who had two geese from the same batch as mine, and she ended up finding them a new home because their aggression wasn't worth it in her set-up. I made some sacrifices in terms of my children's ability to play freely in the yard at certain times of day without an adult present, and invested some time in training both the children and the goose. My friend's priorities were different--it was more important to her for her children to feel completely safe and confident in their own yard, and she invests time in providing more direct human supervision for her ducks (her ducks don't ever free range without a human immediately present). So it also depends on your preferences and priorities.
    basbleu02 likes this.
  3. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Songster

    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC
    Oh, one more thing. Even geese not raised with ducks *can* co-exist peacefully with them. My rescue duck, who is not a guardian, nevertheless ranges the yard and lake with the ducks and hangs out with Herc & his flock daily without any aggression or problems. But she doesn't feel or act protective of them--they're just background to her, and Herc is the only bird that matters. [​IMG]
  4. katharinad

    katharinad Overrun with chickens

    I just like to add that some goose breeds are more aggressive then others.
  5. goosedragon

    goosedragon Songster

    Mar 28, 2009
    Central NC
    Quote:The breed isn't important the indivual goose is. My best guardians have all been older males (ganders) that have been displaced from their alpha gander roles by younger stud ganders. The young studs don't like having The old boys around so they usually drive them out and keep them out of the goose flock. I take them and stick them in with the ducks. Geese are flock birds so without any other choice available they usually take over the duck flock. The ducks soon learn to respect the old boys or he beats the tar out of them. My old boys have already learned to respect humans or they would have been invited to my dinner table. They really come into their own when the ducklings hatch. Drakes are almost never good fathers and about 50% of ducks are bad mothers but the old boys are GREAT as Fathers I had one old boy that was caring for 32 ducklings at one time, riding on his back, under his wings and trailing along behind. On my old farm I had 5 stones that marked the resting place of old boys that lost their last fight with a preditor. How many fights they won or bluffed off their opponents I will never know but my flocks with a guardian gander suffered very few losses.
    basbleu02 likes this.
  6. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life Premium Member

    I have a emden gander and he's is a wonderful watch goose. he is now 3 years old and he is great with the ducks and the chickens as far as watching out for all. When the dogs bark he hollers, when the phone rings he hollers, when I sneeze or cough he hollers, He's a very good watch goose
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2010

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